Nevada looks for stronger play from inside backers | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada looks for stronger play from inside backers

Improved play from the inside linebacker position is something that the Nevada coaching staff would love to clean up in the coming weeks.

The Pack has played four people there – Roosevelt Cooks, Jeremy Engstrom, Scott Garrison and Jason DeMars – throughout the season without a lot of success.

“It’s a combination of things,” Nevada assistant head coach Ken Wilson said during Monday’s weekly Western Athletic Conference teleconference. “No one has stood out. We need a couple of guys to step up and show they can do the job.”

Cooks, who had 10 tackles in Nevada’s win against San Jose State this past Saturday, leads the team with 30 tackles. The other starter, Engstrom, has 16. Garrison has eight and DeMars has four.

Garrison had a key tackle behind the line of scrimmage last week, and he also forced San Jose State quarterback Adam Tafralis to pass before he wanted late in the contest.

Much was expected of Engstrom, who was a second-team all-WAC performer last year as a redshirt freshman. He had three assisted tackles last week and hasn’t been a huge producer this season.

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“Jeremy is not playing as well as we’d hoped,” Wilson said. “He should be playing better. It’s not from lack of effort. He’s just not making plays.”

WADHAMS WILL RETURN

Center Jimmy Wadham’s knee injury isn’t as seriously as the Nevada coaching staff originally thought.

Coach Chris Ault first thought that Wadhams had torn his anterior cruciate ligament in the first half against San Jose State, but it turned out to be an injury to his left medial collateral ligament. Instead of being out for the season, Wadhams will probably be out for four weeks, and Nevada is off one of those weeks.

Wadhams’ backup, Fred White, suffered a severe left foot sprain. He will definitely miss this week’s game, according to the coaching staff.

Reid Jacobs, a JC transfer, will start at center against Idaho. It will be his first appearance of the season snapping the ball, and the centers in the pistol offense have to be able to make that 4 or 5-yard snap back to quarterback Jeff Rowe.

“He (Jacobs) has been doing that (snapping) all fall,” Wilson said. “He goes down and works on that everyday. We’ve had no chance to get him into a game.”

Wilson said that Dominic Green, the starting weakside guard, will back up Jacobs on Saturday.

MAUGA FARES WELL

Former Fallon star Josh Mauga started at outside linebacker and was credited with five tackles, including 1 1/2 stops behind the line of scrimmage.

“Josh continues to get better and better,” Wilson said. “He’s a smart football player. He’s doing a lot of things most freshmen can’t do.”

Wilson also praised the play of Ezra Butler, who had four tackles against the Spartans, which gives him a fifth-best 19.

UPON FURTHER REVIEW

Wilson was asked about the Trevor Brackett fumble which led to a second-quarter score Saturday against San Jose State, and he still believes it was the wrong call.

“Obviously we have a different opinion,” Wilson said. “We don’t have a red flag (to challenge). These things happen. We have to do a better job of stepping up after those situations.”

n Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1281.